I ran off-and-on through college and I remember being one of the few female runners in Spain when I studied abroad in Seville. It wasn't until I moved to Chicago and met a bunch of people who had run marathons that I decided I wanted to run one myself. Removed from the pressure of being on a competitive track team, I began to enjoy running more than I had in high school. Despite the pressure and nerves I had felt as a student, it was all those years of running with a disciplined track regimen that helped me recognize which pace to run, when to push myself and how to finish strong--skills that made me a decent age-group runner.
By the time I got pregnant with Monkey, I had done several marathons and triathlons and lots of running around the soccer field. It was a sad day when I concluded I needed to hang up both my soccer cleats and my running shoes during my pregnancy. It was then that I realized that even though I was a mediocre triathlete and soccer player, being a "good runner" was a huge part of my identity.
I did a few more races before getting pregnant again, but this time I was able to run in the first few months of my pregnancy and start running again six weeks after Munchkin was born. I've had a hard time finding more than 30 minutes to run, but as Munchkin sleeps better and gets older, I'll aim for another half-marathon. My latest source of pride is the 10k mud run I did a few weeks ago with three other mothers. Despite our varied experiences as runners and varied levels of training, we had a great time tackling obstacles and getting muddy. Getting out of the house for a few hours without the kids renewed my sense of individuality, reminded me that I was capable of physical feats that did not involve my children (can you hold 55 lbs of squirming children in your arms?) and that I was still a decent athlete.
Tomorrow I--along with many other parents--will be running a local 5k and Monkey will not only be cheering for me, but I'll be cheering for him. He'll be running his own race (his second race ever) and this year he is old enough to understand the goal and he is already excited to be a part of it. He and Munchkin are young, but I hope that with time, they'll get the same sense of accomplishment and pride from running that I do. It does a body good.